Crime Reduction Strategies
As the City of Norfolk moves beyond the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, its approach to combatting crime takes on a renewed sense of urgency. Both here and across the United States, criminal acts – particularly violent crimes – have increased in many sectors following what had been a multi-year trend of steady declines.
In 2020 alone, data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed a nearly 29 percent year-over-year increase in murders, an 11.7 percent jump in aggravated assaults, and an 11.4 percent increase in auto thefts reported nationally. Beyond these raw numbers, research suggests poor and historically disadvantaged communities have carried the brunt of these increases, and violence across the country has remained concentrated among younger people ages 20 to 29. As evidenced by multiple high-profile crimes committed locally in recent months, Hampton Roads is not immune to these worrisome trends.
An analysis of FBI data by The Brennan Center for Justice, an independent, nonpartisan law and policy organization affiliated with New York University, suggests easy access to guns was a key factor in rising crime rates, with U.S. firearms sales reaching an all-time high in 2020. The pandemic’s negative economic effects, surging mental health concerns and overall societal instability were also contributing factors, as was a growing sense of “legal cynicism,” or the belief that government is either illegitimate or unable to provide for its citizens’ well-being. There is no single driving force, nor is there a quick fix.
Amid these challenges, the City of Norfolk has proactively and progressively adapted its means and methods for reducing crime within neighborhoods and communities. Guns and patrol cars alone will not address today’s needs; reducing crime now requires a holistic approach that includes community building, targeted education, and increased cooperation from residents in our most vulnerable areas. New tactics and technologies can also make a positive difference, allowing law enforcement resources to go farther than could ever be achieved solely through more officers placed on the streets. We will meet modern obstacles with cutting-edge solutions, and our city will emerge both stronger and safer.
This document details numerous strategies and initiatives designed for the City to achieve those goals, ranging from efforts now underway to others that could reasonably be completed within the next few months. It concludes with a summary of long-term tactics that will guide our communitywide safety efforts for years to come.
I appreciate your interest and support as we collectively move into this new era of public safety.
Dr. Larry H. Filer II, City Manager
Submitted October 7, 2022